Introduction: In my youth I was taught the entire Bible, not just the
New Testament. The Old Testament was about keeping the law, the New
Testament was about Jesus. My impression was that the two testaments
were much different. The Old emphasized salvation by works and the
New emphasized salvation through Jesus. It was only later in life
that I started seriously considering the Old Testament method for
eliminating sin. It was not a series of works. You did not need to
suffer in some way to make up for (atone for) your sins. Rather, an
animal was killed to take away your sins. The Old Testament, like the
New, taught the forgiveness of sins by a substitute death. This week
our study is about what Jesus, following the Old Testament symbolism,
is presently doing on our behalf to remove our sins. Let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible!

  1. The Melchizedeck Model

    1. Read Hebrews 7:1-3. What job positions did Melchizedek
      hold? (He was both a king and a priest of the true God.)

      1. Based on your knowledge of the Bible, how common is
        this? (It never happened among God’s people. They
        were led by prophets until they demanded a king.
        Thereafter, the king was never a priest. In this way,
        God separated “church and state” among His people.)

      2. What do we know about this priest-king named
        Melchizedek? (Almost nothing outside his interaction
        with Abraham.)

      3. Do you think that Melchizedek literally, like Jesus,
        remains a priest forever? If so, we have two eternal
        priests, Jesus and Melchizedek! (Commentators
        believe, and I agree, that the writer of Hebrews
        merely means that, unlike the typical Levitical
        priesthood, we know virtually nothing about
        Melchizedek. We don’t know his genealogy, when he was
        born or when he died. If this is not written
        symbolically then we have a new deity of some sort to
        which Abraham gave his allegiance!- never created and
        without end. That is inconsistent with the rest of
        the Bible.)

    2. Read Hebrews 7:11-16. Why do you think the writer of
      Hebrews highlights Melchizedek? (The point is not to make
      Melchizedek a God, but rather to point out Biblical
      precedent for a “king-priest” who was not born out of the
      tribe of Levi. Although much of the comparison between
      Melchizedek and Jesus is symbolic, the writer’s point is
      that Jesus is our King and our High Priest even though He
      was not descended from Levi.)

  2. Jesus Our High Priest

    1. Read Hebrews 7:26-28. What is the advantage over the
      Levitical High Priests of Jesus being our High Priest?
      (Jesus is not a sinful man. Jesus only needed to make one
      sacrifice on our behalf, the sacrifice of Himself.)

    2. Read Hebrews 8:1-2. What is Jesus doing right now? (He is
      serving as our High Priest.)

      1. Where is He doing this? (In heaven!)

    3. Read Hebrews 8:3-5. What do we learn about the design of
      the sanctuary in heaven? (It is like the sanctuary that
      God directed Moses to make.)

      1. How much are the two alike? (What we had on earth was
        a “shadow,” but nevertheless a copy, of the sanctuary
        in heaven.)

        1. How long has a sanctuary been in heaven? (This
          suggests that it was in heaven when Moses was

          1. Why? The logical problem is timing: this
            is before Jesus died on our behalf. (The
            logical answer must be that the sanctuary
            in heaven serves more than the single
            purpose of Jesus’ present work dealing
            with our sin problem. Exodus 25:8-9 gives
            us a hint about that. It tells us that God
            directed the creation of the sanctuary on
            earth so that God could dwell with us.
            Heaven’s original may also be God’s
            dwelling place.)

    4. Read Hebrews 9:11-14. How much better is Jesus’ present
      work on our behalf? (Jesus offers Himself on our behalf,
      which will “cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to
      death, so that we may serve the Living God.”)

      1. What stands out to you in that section I just quoted?
        (I like that my conscience is now clear – it has been
        cleansed. My path is no longer the one leading to
        death. This allows me to serve God.)

  3. Covenant Work

    1. Read Hebrews 9:15. This refers to Jesus dying for our sins
      under the “first covenant,” but says that He is the
      Mediator “of a new covenant.” A covenant is a contract, do
      we have a new contract? If so, what terms have changed?

    2. Let’s examine this new covenant a bit more. Read Hebrews
      8:10-12. What is the timing for this? (Verse 10 simply
      says, “after that time.” It refers back to the time of the
      first covenant. Because Hebrews tells us that Jesus is
      currently mediating the new covenant, it must also include

      1. We are told that God will put His laws in our minds
        and write them on our hearts. We are also told that
        we don’t need people like me – teachers! What does
        this mean? (Primarily, the coming of the Holy Spirit
        in power fulfills this role. See, John 16:7-13. If
        this time period has no end, then it may also refer
        to heaven, where God makes us new so that we no
        longer have a sinful fallen nature.)

    3. Read Hebrews 10:1-4. Do you recall that we read (Hebrews
      8:5) that the sanctuary on earth was merely a “shadow” of
      the sanctuary in heaven? What other shadow do we find
      here? (The law is a “shadow” of the good things to come.)

      1. What is that “good thing?” (Our current covenant –
        Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary offering Himself for
        our sins.)

      2. Study carefully what these verses say the law could
        not do, but which it suggests our new contract can.
        Does the new arraignment make us “cleansed once for
        all [time]?”

    4. Read Hebrews 10:11-14. My mental picture about Jesus’ work
      has been that He is in the sanctuary every day mediating
      for us. What do these verses make clear? (Jesus’ work is
      not like that of the human priests. Jesus made “one
      sacrifice for sins” and then “He sat down at the right
      hand of God.” He now “waits for His enemies to be made His
      footstool.” The One who created the universe by speaking
      has finished His work on our behalf.)

      1. Several times in this study I’ve referred to Jesus
        being in heaven and mediating on our behalf. Is this
        wrong, since these verses tell us that Jesus offered
        “one sacrifice” and now is sitting down waiting?
        Should we say that Jesus is currently “waiting,” not
        mediating on our behalf in heaven? (A couple of
        points are clear. Jesus’ one sacrifice is sufficient.
        I know that I keep sinning and I’m not the only one.
        The application of Jesus mediating work continues in
        some way.)

    5. Re-read Hebrews 10:14. What does “made perfect forever”
      mean? Does it mean that our current and future sins are
      forgiven, and Jesus is truly waiting rather than
      mediating? Isn’t that sense reflected in Hebrews 10:2?
      (Two things: First, the focus in these texts is on the
      character of the High Priest and the nature of the
      sacrifice. It is not on the nature of the humans seeking
      atonement for their sins. However, the second
      consideration is that the text plainly says that sinners
      are being made “perfect forever.” On balance, I think the
      “perfect forever” refers mainly to the lasting power and
      perfection of what Jesus has done. Otherwise, the line
      from the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our sins” ( Luke 11:2)
      would make no sense as a regular prayer. It would only
      need to be said once.)

      1. Why does Hebrews 10:14 go on to refer to us “being
        made holy?” (Jesus saved us by His life, death,
        resurrection and heavenly High Priest work. It is
        righteousness by faith alone. Righteousness by faith
        makes us perfect for salvation because God considers
        Jesus’ righteousness, not ours. However, the Holy
        Spirit works with us every day to move us forward on
        the road to holiness. Our lives are deemed perfect,
        but they need improvement.)

  4. Confidence

    1. Read Hebrews 10:19-22. How many illusions to the earthly
      Day of Atonement do you see? (One of the most important is
      that we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place.
      Leviticus 16:2 tells us that if the High Priest entered
      the Most Holy Place (behind the curtain) whenever he
      wanted, that he would die. We do not need to fear death.)

    2. Read Hebrews 10:23-25. How should this confidence in your
      salvation affect your life? Should you decide that it
      does not matter how you live? (It should spur us “on
      toward love and good deeds.”)

      1. Does that make sense to you? If you are “made
        perfect” isn’t the natural result to care less about
        your actions? (Read Hebrews 10:26-29. When we
        consider the terrible sacrifice Jesus made on our
        behalf, we will be motivated to reject sin.)

    3. Friend, Jesus paid a terrible penalty for your sins. His
      sacrifice and His work in the heavenly sanctuary give you
      eternal life. Show respect and gratitude for what Jesus
      has done. Decide right now, with the power of the Holy
      Spirit, to live a life in accord with God’s will.

  5. Next week: The “Change” of the Law.